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SFB 2010 Swan Lake


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#1 PeggyR

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 02:48 PM

Casts for the first two performances (scroll down past the Gala info). Note Casey Herd guesting on Sunday afternoon as Siegfried to Tan's O/O. I'll be there Saturday evening for the opening; glad for another chance to see Kochetkova.

Opening Night Swan Lake (Program 1) Evening
Saturday, January 23, 2010, 8:00 PM

SWAN LAKE
Composer: Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Choreographer: Helgi Tomasson
Conductor: Martin West
Odette/Odile: Maria Kochetkova
Prince Siegfried: Davit Karapetyan

Swan Lake (Program 1) Matinee
Sunday, January 24, 2010, 2:00 PM

Odette/Odile: Yuan Yuan Tan
Prince Siegfried: Casey Herd^

^ Denotes guest artist.

#2 PeggyR

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Posted 23 January 2010 - 06:11 PM

Finally, the scheduled casts for the full run of Swan Lake. Leaving in a few minutes to see Kochetkova tonight, and have tickets for next Saturday, both matinee and evening -- looking forward to both Van Patten and Tan.

Swan Lake (Program 1) Opening Night
Saturday, January 23, 2010, 8:00 PM
Odette/Odile: Maria Kochetkova
Prince Siegfried: Davit Karapetyan
Von Rothbart: Damian Smith

Sunday, January 24, 2010, 2:00 PM
Odette/Odile: Yuan Yuan Tan
Prince Siegfried: Casey Herd^
Von Rothbart: Damian Smith

Tuesday, January 26, 2010, 8pm
Odette/Odile: Lorena Feijoo
Prince Siegfried: Vitor Luiz*
Von Rothbart: Anthony Spaulding

Wednesday, January 27, 2010, 7:30pm
Odette/Odile: Sarah Van Patten
Prince Siegfried: Vadim Solomakha^
Von Rothbart: Anthony Spaulding

Thursday, January 28, 2010, 8pm
Odette/Odile: Maria Kochetkova
Prince Siegfried: Gennadi Nedvigin*
Von Rothbart: Damian Smith

Friday, January 29, 2010, 8:00 PM
Odette/Odile: Vanessa Zahorian
Prince Siegfried: Taras Domitro*
Von Rothbart: Anthony Spaulding

Saturday, January 30, 2010, 2:00 PM
Odette/Odile: Sarah Van Patten
Prince Siegfried: Vadim Solomakha^
Von Rothbart: Anthony Spaulding

Saturday, January 30, 2010, 8:00 PM
Odette/Odile: Yuan Yuan Tan
Prince Siegfried: Casey Herd^
Von Rothbart: Damian Smith


* Denotes premiere in role.
^ Denotes guest artist.
Casting subject to change.

#3 PeggyR

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Posted 24 January 2010 - 03:11 AM

January 23, opening night, Swan Lake -- good news and bad news, bad news first.

This was not the overall polished performance a company that aspires to international stature should be putting on. Without naming names: first act pas de tois, at least two, maybe three bobbles from dancers who don't do bobbles; Act II, a swan lost her balance to the point I really thought she was going to take a header (she didn't); Act II again, swan arms every which way at times; Act II yet again -- pdd violin solo -- don't know whose music was being played but it surely didn't sound like anything Tchaikovsky ever wrote -- John Cage, maybe???; Act II yet again, again -- the two swans -- both good dancers but very small scale performances (IMHO, nobody but Elana Altman should be allowed to dance the two swans, and she should dance both at the same time); Act (oh, take a guess) -- little cygnets on track to redeem the honor of the corps de ballet -- just before the end, really looked like they got seriously out of sync (maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think so) - they recovered quickly, but it's really a shame -- they were superb up to that point.

Now for the good news, and its name is Maria Kochetkova. She doesn't have a naturally beautiful line, she doesn't exude drama like Lorena Feijoo, but Kochetkova knows how to deploy her considerable resources. She uses her small physique to make Odette into a wounded sparrow -- folded inward, velvety, soft, all curves, no edges. The big surprise is her truly gleeful Odile -- just your basic fun-loving girl who gets a genuine charge out of ruining Siegfried's life -- you can't help wondering who's next? And the biggest surprise is that you'd swear this Odile was a couple of inches taller than Odette -- everything that was folded in and soft now radiates outward from the center, sharper turns, higher extensions, even her hands are held differently -- fingers splayed, wrists broken -- squares and rectangles. And the fouettés -- if my count is correct, she started with 10 doubles, switched to single/double/single/double, etc. Lest Kochetkova sounds inhumanly perfect, the fouettés were not technically all that great -- they travelled a bit and weren't particularly beautiful or well placed, but they sent the audience into mild hysteria (fouettés do that).

More good news: Davit Karapetyan. His Siegfried isn't a spoiled youth who falls in love with the latest passing swan -- he's a grown man who realizes, too late, that he's been had. And those gorgeously controlled pirouettes and beautifully placed jumps -- I don't think he had a bad moment in the whole performance. He and Kochetkova look wonderful together, despite the fact that he's about a foot taller than she is -- her dancing is so big that she can work with a tall partner, and he's attentive and unobtrusive -- really shows off his ballerina to best advantage without horning in on her moments. He's a gentlemen, and those are in short supply.

Even more good news: New principal Vitor Luiz danced the first act pas de tois and it's possible that he's a real find. His jumps aren't terribly high, but they're light and well placed; excellent pirouettes; good stage presence and he danced with real attack. Someone to look forward to seeing again.

And even more good news: another interesting bad guy. Last year I saw SL four times, all with Anthony Spaulding's sexily sinister Rothbart. Tonight, Damien Smith took on the role, and played it like a demented cross between Johnny Depp's Willy Wonka and Sweeney Todd (Smith actually looked like Depp's Todd; and was that a new costume? It looked very different from what I remember from last year.).

The good far outweighed the bad, but somebody needs to clean up the details.

Next Saturday, Van Patten and Tan.

#4 Helene

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Posted 24 January 2010 - 04:02 AM

Oh, PeggyR, : :D and :lol: For a moment I thought I was still on Figure Skating Universe, reading reviews of the Ladies' Free Skate from the European and US Championships :)

When I read the cast lists for this run, I was bummed that I would not be able to see Maria Kochetkova with either Karapetyan or Nedvigin, and from your description, I was right to be, but now I'm even more bummed that I won't be able to see Damien Smith, either.

#5 ginasf

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Posted 28 January 2010 - 10:02 AM

I saw last Sunday's Swan Lake with Yuan Yuan Tan and Casey Herd. I'm curious why various guest performers are being used for Siegfried? Is someone injured, are they literally caught short with who is available for the role or is it some kind of cost cutting move?

Yuan Yuan was wonderful and fluid (and I actually liked her Black Swan act better than her Odette). As usual with her, gorgeous arms and extensions. She still feels as if she's growing into the role(s), I didn't always feel the majesty or tragedy of her performance... a little too emotionally flat. Best of all was Damien Smith's Von Rothbart who was both sexy and evil. Actually one of my favorite performances of that role in many dozens of Swan Lakes I've seen. Rather than being a crazy older man, you can actually understand here why he has this spell over Odette.

Herd is a good dancer (perhaps better for contemporary works?) but not terribly expressive nor stylish. Nice line and body, a competent partner, but his elevation is limited. His acting brought little to the role nor was there much passion between the Prince and Odette/Odile.

Special mention goes to Hansuke Yamamoto in the Peasant Pas de Trois. What a consistent joy he is to watch. SF Ballet is lucky to have him.

I really do wish I'd seen Yuan Yuan Tan with different prince, one who could match her expressiveness. There were a few of the fumbles mentioned in the review of opening night. While the Swans seemed to have settled down, the two female dancers in the Peasant Pas de Trois (one of whom was a substitution) had some bad timing and phrasing.

Can't say I'm in love with Helgi's version of SL... especially the prologue at the beginning (despite the cool special effects). It adds nothing to the drama of the piece and is kind of a mess in terms of movement. I also don't like how certain elements are handled in the Grand Pas in the Black Swan Act... there's no excitement and flash in the way he has it arranged. It's a handsome production except for the ballroom set, which lacks any opulence and sense of drama.

In all, a good Swan Lake, worth experiencing, but lacking in passion, romance and tragedy. Swan Lake should never be merely watchable, it should go straight to your heart.

#6 carbro

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Posted 28 January 2010 - 02:41 PM

Thanks for your review, ginasf, and welcome to BalletTalk. I hope you'll continue to keep us posted on what you're seeing.

Can't say I'm in love with Helgi's version of SL... especially the prologue at the beginning (despite the cool special effects). It adds nothing to the drama of the piece and is kind of a mess in terms of movement. I also don't like how certain elements are handled in the Grand Pas in the Black Swan Act... there's no excitement and flash in the way he has it arranged. ...

...Swan Lake should never be merely watchable, it should go straight to your heart.

I haven't seen this production, so I can't address the specifics, but isn't it amazing how many ways choreographers find to diminish the grandeur and poetry of the classics?

#7 ginasf

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Posted 29 January 2010 - 01:38 PM

Helgi is an incredible artistic director... certainly one of the best in the world, but I've never been a fan of his choreography. :-(

#8 Quiggin

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Posted 30 January 2010 - 02:18 AM

I saw two of the casts of Swan Lake, with Maria Kochetkova and Gennadi Nedvigin, and with Vanessa Zahorian and Taras Domitro. Vanessa and Taras danced beautifully, in perfect partnership, best ever, and their night (Friday, to be repeated Sunday) of Swan Lake really became interesting with their first pas and didn’t stop after that. Vanessa went into a brilliant overdrive in the middle of one of her black swan variations (it’s interesting that the most joyful and celebratory scene in Swan Lake, akin to the exuberance of Don Q, is danced under almost totally false pretenses). Taras at one turn brought his right leg up at an almost 90 degree angle to his torso and then up beyond that, hand high, as if an afterthought, nothing splashy, very natural and lyrical and it brought involuntary cries from the young dancers in the audience nearby. His detailing is small and finely wrought -- if it were a typeface it would be italic Garamond to Gennadi’s Bell. Gennadi possessed the stage like a prince from the start -- like Igor Zelensky in Sleeping Beauty that the Kirov/Maryinksky brought to the Bay Area a few years ago. It’s not that his acting range is so great but, with his open face and broad armspread, he makes everything interesting he does, you want to follow it all out, see which way his hands are flexed next. When he first looks at Odette, it seems to stop everything, and you seem to be able to read his thoughts. I’ll second PeggyR about Maria’s wonderfulness and add that I thought her Odile looked like a whimsical juvenile delinquent in a fifties film and that Damian Smith was very effective, but his choice of involuntarily cocking his head to the side, like a birdman from a Batman episode, perhaps lessened the mysterious psychology of von Rothbart.

I also agree with Ginasf that the prologue to Swan Lake -- an in front of the curtain, entr’acte scene of von Rothbart arbitrarily picking on or picking up Odette -- is superfluous and it banalizes the story. I also agree that this version of Swan Lake doesn't naturally pierce the heart, that it's been normalized in some way.

I regret not having seen Lorena Feijoo and Vitor Luiz -- if anyone has, please post!

#9 PeggyR

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Posted 31 January 2010 - 08:28 PM

Some final thoughts on Swan Lake --

The prologue: Sarah Van Patten makes it (almost) watchable: where the other ballerinas 'dance' their fear of von Rothbart, SVP flails and thrashes -- no ballet here, just sheer terror and scarily effective -- prologue still useless, though.

Van Patten's SL in general: for some reason, I've never thought of her as a 'classical' dancer in the way that Kochetkova is -- SVP seems very contemporary -- yet she gives a beautiful, seamless, technically strong, and very individual performance as Odette -- for me by far the best dramatically of those I've seen over the last two seasons (unfortunately, missed Vanessa Zahorian but saw all the others). In contrast to Van Patten's Odette, I think her Odile is less successful, a little grim -- she never smiled although there were a few smirks -- this Odile is there on business and Siegfried is her latest buyout -- but that doesn't exactly fit the scenario, since it's hardly a hostile takeover.

Yuan Yuan Tan: I love so much about her dancing and I want to love her Odette, but it's like viewing one of those all white paintings -- you keep looking for an embedded dust mote to give it some depth -- by contrast, her Odile is wicked, seductive, gorgeous.

National dances in Act III: mostly tedious and boring -- in Spanish, only Elana Altman (plush and womanly -- and btw, where is she this season???) and Lily Rogers (sharp and edgy) manage to give this any nuances -- others were just red blobs; Polish is hopeless -- tilt head back, hand behind neck, click heels twice, repeat sequence 372 times -- aaarrrrgh; Neapolitan is cute -- cute, cute ,cute -- I loathe cute; Russian is actually pretty good -- lovely costumes, reasonably interesting choreography -- too little, too late -- by then I'm too busy plotting ways to do away with the Neapolitans to enjoy the Russians.

Gennadi possessed the stage like a prince from the start...

He danced the pas de trois (which I've learned to spell since my original review) on Saturday evening. First time I've seen him in a classical role and he was terrific -- not really a danseur physique, but certainly the bearing and technical prowess -- wish I'd seen his Siegfried.


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